Hello, I’m Rose and I’m a single mom of 5 children, 4 of them live at home with me. The following is my story about our journey to becoming a single-parent family. It is a bit lengthy but I want to show other single moms that whatever struggles they face, they too can successfully survive being a single mom.
It was mid-April of 2004 I had finally had enough of the abuse and verbal tormenting of me and my children; I decided it was time to venture out on our own. My husband and I had been married for 7 years and had 3 children; I also had 2 children of my own from before we were married. During the 7 years of our marriage I had not worked but rather had been a stay-at-home mom and had been home schooling all of our children. A few weeks before my decision to leave I started working at Wal-Mart in the evenings in an attempt to prepare myself to be the sole provider for my children. I also started the enrollment process at my local technical college because I knew I did not want to work for Wal-Mart for the rest of my life and be without any job skills for my future.
When I first embarked on my adventure I never knew all the things that were waiting for me and I daresay if I had known, I might not have taken the leap. My eldest son at the time was 14; I’d had “problems” with this child since he was four years old. He just started being naughty one day and just could not seem to behave. This resulted in ten years of anger, frustration, misunderstanding, and even some hard feelings between the two of us. At age 14 he was nearly as big as I and was completely uncontrollable; the move to a new environment seemed to catapult his problems into a new orbit beyond anything I could have ever imagined. By the end of the summer (just a mere 12 weeks after our move) I had made the decision to put him in foster care for his and our benefit and he was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.
I started my first day of college in early August; I walked through the doors a bit apprehensive and still unaware of the multiple challenges that were yet awaiting me. I remember clearly the first day of class as I sat sniffling at my seat thinking I had a slight summer cold or possibly allergies. Throughout the weeks to come many things continued to occur that made that first semester seem completely unrealistic and unbelievable. I had chosen the accounting program as my major and since I had not spoken with a counselor about the classes I needed to take or the time frame that I could complete this program in, I had enrolled for 19 credits – a total of 9 classes! I was attending classes from 8:00 am till 4:00 pm nearly every day; Thursday and Friday were my shorter days and I would go straight to work at Wal-Mart right after classes. I was also working every Saturday from 8:00 am till noon. Additionally, I had volunteered to serve as the Student Senate secretary for the school year and had some obligations that I had to meet for that as well.
Everything is Falling Apart
My divorce was started and I was dealing with custody, visitation, child support and all the other issues that go along with the splitting of a family. The other children who are ages 1, 3, 5, 9 were going through major emotional roller-coaster rides as well. Not only had we left the comfort of the home we’d shared with their dad, but they’d also been forced to start attending the public school and/or going to daycare. They felt the pain of loosing their dad, the security of a whole family, and their eldest brother was no longer living at home. Everything they knew in their lives was gone and nothing was the same nor would it ever be the same.
With all the chaos going on in my life at the time, taking care of myself was at an all time low on my list of priorities. That little “sniffle” I had the first day of class had now become an unbearable cough that would leave me weak and shaking. There were signs up at every classroom door that stated there were known cases of whooping cough in the college. Even after seeing the signs, it was still several weeks before the urgings of my fellow classmates finally sunk in and I decided a doctor visit was in order. I waited till I reached the point where I couldn’t move from the couch to change the two younger children’s diapers and only went then because I couldn’t bear the thought of asking someone else to help me care for them. It didn’t take long for the doctor to inform me that I had pneumonia; he gave me a prescription to take at home and said I needed to come back for a follow-up visit on Monday (this was Friday). The ex came to pick up his three children that evening; my 9 year old always stayed home with me. I don’t remember much of that weekend but I do remember going back to school and the doctor on Monday; I didn’t miss a day of class from being sick.
Over the next several weeks, I continued to be ill and was always fighting a cold or just being exhausted. My grades were falling in my main accounting class and I knew that I was going to fail. I talked to a friend at school who was taking the administrative assistant degree program and started checking into that as an alternative. Once I made up my mind to change degrees, I scheduled an appointment with a guidance counselor to determine where I was going to go as well as to drop some classes. When she told me that I was too overloaded with classes and that I needed to slow down and spread my education out over three years I was overwhelmed. I felt like a failure and couldn’t possibly envision myself ever graduating. I had to discuss the class drops with my teachers and make some decisions if I was going to make it through that first semester. All the classes they wanted me to drop were classes that I was making really good grades in and I wasn’t willing to give up any of them. My accounting teacher wasn’t too agreeable about me dropping my main accounting class and wanted me to finish it. So we reached a compromise, I dropped the other accounting class that I was getting a pretty decent grade in and I dropped my math class that I was getting an A in. With the drop of just those two classes life slowed down tremendously but my health was still an issue.
It finally became apparent that I needed to quit working because being around people so much at work was causing me to continue being sick. Every day I’d have several people come through my check out line who were battling colds, the flu, bronchitis, and etc..; my immune system was too weak to fight anything and I couldn’t get well. I spoke with the manager about taking a leave of absence until school was out for the summer and then I’d return to work during the summer months. The semester ended and I had a 3.5 GPA; on December 24, I worked my last day at Wal-Mart not knowing that I would never return as intended.
Is that Daylight?
I used my student loans to pay all the household bills for the next six months; just before the paid up bills ran out I received the opportunity to work as a virtual assistant for a small book publishing company located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Once I took advantage of that opportunity my future opened up and a whole new set of opportunities was waiting just around the corner.
I did graduate with my Associate degree at the end of the three years and have now started working on my Bachelors degree. The initial opportunity to work as a virtual assistant turned into a full time virtual assistant business that lasted for three years but I had to restructure when the economy collapsed and I lost all my clients. I have now started a website design business where I’ll offer services to local business working from my home. My son will be 18 at the end of May ’08 and continues to live in his foster home. With the advanced training the foster parents had in dealing with children like him he has improved tremendously; he has a straight A average in school and will graduate next year. The other children have grown, adapted, and matured. They enjoy having their brother home on the weekends for visits and we have become a “normal” single-parent family.